Italy holds day of mourning for quake dead

Italy earthquake
The 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred on Wednesday, August 24

A mass funeral is taking place in Italy for some of the 284 people killed in Wednesday’s powerful earthquake.

The ceremony for 34 victims from the town of Arquata began at a sports hall in the regional capital, Ascoli Piceno.

The coffins, laid out in rows on the floor, include two painted white for two children killed.

The death toll from the quake, which struck a mountainous central region, rose overnight as more bodies were found.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is among those attending the funeral.

Italy  mourning

President Sergio Mattarella earlier visited Amatrice, the town with the most casualties.

Most victims were Italian, but several foreigners were among those killed, including three Britons.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by hundreds of aftershocks, with one severely damaging a key bridge into Amatrice.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t collapse or the town will be cut off from both sides,” said Mayor Sergio Pirozzi.

More aftershocks were registered in the early hours of Saturday, one with a magnitude of four.

The ground beneath Accumoli, another severely affected village, sank 20cm (8in) as a result of the earthquake, satellite images obtained by Italy’s scientific authorities show.

The district which sank is shown in red on this image compiled from data from a Japanese satellite and published by Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).

Flags are flying at half mast across the country as Italy remembers victims of the quake.

More than 200 people died in Amatrice alone. Along with Arquata and Accumoli, Pescara del Tronto was also hard-hit.

Many bodies have also been brought to a makeshift morgue in an aircraft hangar in the city of Rieti, where relatives have been identifying loved ones.

The first funeral for one of the earthquake’s victims was held on Friday, for the son of a state official who died in Amatrice.

At least 388 people have been treated in hospital for their injuries while more than 2,000 people were made homeless.

The 6.2-magnitude quake hit in the early hours of Wednesday, 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome.

Italy’s government has been criticised for failing to prevent deaths after the 2009 earthquake in nearby L’Aquila left 300 dead.

Historic towns do not have to conform to anti-quake building regulations, which are also often not applied when new buildings are put up.

In addition to emergency funds, PM Renzi cancelled taxes for residents and announced a new initiative, “Italian Homes”, to tackle criticism over shoddy construction.

But he also said that it was “absurd” to think that Italy could build completely quake-proof buildings.

Source: BBC

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